Voices of Culture – Social Inclusion

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Be inclusive yourself! The role of culture for social inclusion

Live DMA was selected to participate at the Voices of Culture structured dialogue on fostering the contribution of culture to social inclusion. The process took place from April to September 2018. 

This Brainstorming report on “Social Inclusion: partnering with other sectors” is the result of the brainstorming process between 35 participating organizations, both from the cultural and other sectors.

The report looks at the policy, qualities of partnership and research and development aspects of programmes and projects dealing with culture and social inclusion. It lists critical success factors as well as obstacles, and ultimately gives recommendations on how to improve the partnerships between the cultural and other sectors in this sphere. Furthermore, it also addresses the problem of rising exclusionary attitudes among the wider population and proposes possible actions.

Voices of Culture Brainstorming Report
About Voices of Culture

Voices of Culture is a thematic group of dialogue between experts from the cultural sector in Europe and the European Commission. In 2018, Live DMA was selected as an expert in the topic on Social inclusion: partnering between cultural and other sectors. The Voices of culture process is made of one brainstorming meeting (April 2018), an analysis report with best practices and recommendations written by the group of experts (April-September), and a dialogue meeting to present the report to the European Commission (September 2018).

Social Inclusion: Partnering between cultural and other sectors

On the 17th of September 2018, the group of experts met in Brussels with Walter Zampieri (Head of Cultural Policy Unit, DG Education and Culture) to discuss our conclusions.

Zampieri introduces the meeting saying there’s a “[…] growing attention about the role of culture in European Policies“, and he stresses the role of culture for social cohesion. He shares his worries about the general decline of participation in culture in Europe, based on European statistics (EuroBarometer), even if this decline is not shared in all European countries.

The challenges that we face at a European level are cultural challenges. What does it mean to promote social cohesion then? How to avoid the fragmentation of our culture(s)? There is a often a dualism between the  intraseque value of culture and the role of culture. In Zampieri’s point of view, social cohesion is based on participation in culture and culture partnering with other sectors.

PRESENTATION OF THE EXPERTS REPORT

Members of the expert group discussed a lot about definitions (cohesion/integration/inclusion) and sub-sectors’ categorization (health/social affairs/justice) when it comes to identifying partners or target groups. They needed a framework to work transversely, not to spread in too many different directions. Experts also wondered how to tackle it from a European perspective.

Finally, they summed up one of the biggest challenge as being the exclusionary attitudes and discrimination in the wider population. It is a urgent matter, a risk for open and inclusive societies as well as a threat for European cohesion as a whole.

The Cultural sector is made of activists, businesses and organisations. It can be seen as field of policies as well, and/or as a holistic concept that characterize a society. In this way, culture could both foster inclusiveness or divisiveness. The cultural sector must be aware of it, and needs a normative framework and criteria to help to evaluate the use of culture.
The values of inclusiveness are very close to European Values: democracy, equality, non-discrimination, etc. It is crucial for the European Union to promote inclusiveness through their programmes then. Capitals of culture, heritage labels remain important but we need more labels guided by European core values.

This reflection led to a debate about the risk of instrumentalisation of culture. Some members of the expert group think that all the cultural sector should not have to respond to these values but only creativity. The more you name it, the less it works. Cultural and artistic projects can have so many social impacts without aiming at it in the first place.

The report highlights the large number of good practices on the topic. Therefore, the group of experts recommends the support of networks and the creation of tools to disseminate the good practices with a guide and a common methodology for evaluation. The group also stresses the need of long-term funding rather than project-subsidies.

During the afternoon, the expert group met some members of the OMC group (Open Method of Coordination), which is the equivalent of the Voices of Culture dialogue group, but for Members States. Representatives from The Netherlands, Greece, France and Czech Republic attended the session. The OMC group also went through an analysis of success factors and barriers to write down their recommendations, but they kept the division per sub-sector. Their recommendations are not public yet.

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